Changes could lead to creation of

Date: Friday 21st January 2011

new Penrith to Keswick rail link

RAIL campaigner Cedric Martindale believes it may be feasible to create a new rail link between Penrith and Keswick with the Cumbrian Energy Coast.

Mr. Martindale believes that changes in the Parliamentary constituency which has brought Keswick into Copeland could result in Keswick and the North Lakes being linked to the Energy Coast area, where development of transport infrastructure is seen as a high priority.

In his latest message to supporters, Mr. Martindale said the reopening of the railway from Penrith to Keswick would establish a rail “bridgehead” much closer to the coast. This could reduce car travel, ease parking issues and open up access to rail travel for more people in the Penrith area, as well as Keswick and further west.

He said that before 1966 a railway ran from Penrith to Workington. Much of that route was taken to build the A66, but it may be feasible to create a new route to reconnect the Cumbrian coast via a much shorter, faster link to the main line rail network.

“A link from Keswick to Workington is out of our scope at the moment, although it is not out of mind. It would make a logical follow-on project once our first part is open,” he said.

The Keswick to Penrith railway trackbed is largely intact. Less than 10 per cent. of the earthworks and bridges have been removed and most of the alignment is unobstructed, said Mr. Martindale.

“The case for reopening has been demonstrated. There is considerable support within the area. Feasibility and business studies have shown that the task is relatively simple and justified,” he said.

Mr. Martindale believes Keswick to Penrith is an “easy start” reopening scheme and there would be a significant demand for travel on the route from the outset.

Simple concepts such as allowing students from the University in Carlisle to travel to Keswick daily for holiday work could have a whole range of benefits for everybody, including accommodation businesses which would then not need to have so many live-in staff.

Mr. Martindale, writing in the “return to Keswick” newsletter, also refers to the recent bad weather and says most predictions are for more frequent severe weather in the future.

The Government has maintained interest in developing and improving transport infrastructure, particularly railways, and saving on imported fuel would be another major factor.

Mr. Martindale said that in its White Paper, “Towards A Sustainable Transport System”, the Department of Transport had concluded that railway projects under £100 million tended to offer better value for money and Keswick to Penrith fell easily within that definition.